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Over 80 percent of stroke patients are alcoholics

A top medical expert yesterday urged the Health Ministry to set up separate wards to provide specialized treatment to stroke patients at major government hospitals.

Consultant Neurologist Dr. (Ms.) Padma Gunaratne made that request after launching an awareness programme for people in Colombo to mark the World Stroke Day.

She said although strokes were the second leading cause of death after heart ailments, state-run hospitals, except the Colombo National Hospital and Kurunegala Hospital, did not have wards for stroke patients.

All stroke patients were warded in medical wards, she said adding that 80 percent of patients brought to hospitals were males.

Dr Padma Gunaratne said the National Stroke Association had been instrumental in launching several awareness campaigns on strokes.

Around 5.7 million people were dying of strokes annually in the world, but a complete estimate of Sri Lanka’s death rate could not be taken because some stroke patients had died at home.

At least two stroke wards in two hospitals should be set up in each district, she said. When stroke patients were admitted, doctors had no alternative but to send them to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for treatment, she said.

Dr. Gunaratne said 80 per cent of stroke patients admitted to hospitals were heavy smokers and tipplers. Thirty per cent of the patients could be treated but they would suffer from permanent disablement.

She said factors such as eating salty and fatty food, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, excessive consumption of liquor and lack of exercise were the main causes of strokes.

The Stroke Association of Sri Lanka urges people to change their eating habits and to take in more fruits and vegetables.

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